May 2011

May 2011

We left Shepparton and after spending  several enjoyable days camping at various sites on the banks of the mighty Murray River we crossed the border into South Australia to a little village called Mannum.  Passing through the city of Adelaide we picked up a parcel of stylus and sent off five to waiting clients.  I had intended to stay there for a few days but as we have to get to Perth by the  first  week in June and with nearly 2,500 klms to travel we decided to press on and today the 20th we left Ceduna at the start of our Nullarbor Plains adventure.  The weather was atrocious, very wet and with gale force head winds impeding our progress.  We made a short detour down to the Head of the Bight which is a premier whale watching area.  The extreme weather conditions made the sea very rough and not a whale to be sighted.  The wing was so strong that it was difficult to walk against it.  It was a relief to get to Eucla as the wind had moderated

Unlisted Rest Area (the cleanest we have ever seen)

and the sun was shining again. At this point the road leaves the coast and goes inland and the weather  improved greatly.  A fuel stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse revealed that the extreme wind had caused a thirty percent increase in fuel consumption!  At the border the scenery changes quite dramatically from the treeless plains (which Nullarbor means) to stubby growth, to rich wheat belt, to stringy bark forest country.  Most noticeable were the spindly trees with a profusion of branches capped with a canopy of shiny green leaves almost like an umbrella. We overnighted in some marvelous rest areas like the one here. Pristine roads lined with small stones, rubbish bins and even a picnic table. Like  most rest areas there were no toilets but having our own facilities this did not  concern us.  Unlike most rest areas the absence of white streamers was very  apparent and it was remarkable the small amount of rubbish littering the area.  It  became clearer next morning when we discovered the rest area we though we had  stopped in came into sight two kilometers down the road.  I was able to check the  GPS readings to establish that the rest area we stayed in was not listed in Camps  Australia which is the guidebook for all travellers.

Salmon Gums

As we approached Norseman we came across  increasing numbers of the beautiful Salmon  Gum tree. These magnificent trees shed their  bark once a year to reveal and incredibly shiny salmon coloured trunk which quickly mellows to a light grey until next season.  As we approached Perth the colour changed to a more yellow shade.  They were probably a variant of the species because their bark was shed in a mottled patterns unlike the strips of the Salmon gum. We arrived in York and Margaret wanted to attend a weekend market at the Old Mill.  After  some difficulty arranging Public Liability Insurance we were only able to display on the Sunday.  This was quite successful and resulted in us being invited to stop overnight at a place where there was to be an art session next day.  Margaret enthralled five ladies who decided they must aquire all the equipment to continue their encaustic journey. From York it is only a short distance to Perth where we became encamped at the Advent Centre.  We will stay here for eight nights to await the arrival of my son Deryk and his new bride Claire.  They are stopping off

Ian with son Deryk at Pinnacles

in Perth for a couple of days to see us  and then will be returning to their home in Switzerland via South Africa where they will spend ten days checking out the wildlife.  During this time we will attend to some necessary service work to the motorhome and our Suzuki.

After collecting Deryk and Claire from Perth Airport we had a quick meal and then set off Northwards for Cervantes and the world famous Pinnacles Dessert. Our overnight stop at a roadside rest area introduced our visitors to the delights

Magnificent hand made alter

of bush camping.  Fortunately they both slept well on our fold down lounge and after showering and breakfast we traveled to few kilometers to our destination There are acres of spectacular rock formations of all shapes and sizes.  Some polished smooth and some deeply pitted and creviced.  We left the motorhome in the car park and drove around the dessert track in the Suzi,  Deryk, an avid photographer, found many photo  opportunities.

After lunch we  headed off  to New Norcia, Australia’s only Monastic  Town.  Founded by Spanish Monks in 1846 it is famous for its collection of buildings featuring Spanish architecture and Australia’s finest collection of religious paintings.  Some twenty years ago thieves broke in and stole many of the paintings severely damaging them by rough cutting the canvas from their frames,  Our last visit here

Monastery School at New Norcia

was in 2006 for the celebration of the return of the beautifully restored paintings.  Today we had a two hour conducted tour and learned much of the history of New Norcia and their Monks.  We visited the school premises where where so many indigenous children were educated voluntarily and not forced.  There were no “stolen generation” here.  After camping overnight in the Monastary grounds we headed back to Perth to find medical facilities so that our guests could have an injection which has suddenly become mandatory for entry into South Africa. This

April 2011

April 2011

Julie’s first wax picture

Next on to Deniliquin joining the advance party preparing for the 25th Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’ s rally. Over eleven hundred vehicles were in attendance. Unfortunately Margaret was not well and had to cancel her Encaustic Art classes.  She was better for the Market Day on Saturday and managed to start five new people on their encaustic journey. We purchased a new Toshiba laptop computer and have had a lot of difficulty with it. Shepparton was our next destination to stay with one of Margaret’s nieces Julie and her partner. We found that Julie works for a local organization called Connect GV which cares for disabled        people and that next day was their craft day.  Julie invited Margaret to give her group a   demonstration.   About forty people, carers and clients were kept spellbound for over two hour  whilst Margaret wielded her iron.  Then by popular demand Julie was persuaded  to put on an  apron and try her hand.  She was amazed and delighted by the result as she had never before    been able to achieve anything artistic. A quick trip back to Wodonga to see a web designer to sort out our web problems.   Grounded  by Margaret’s recurring chest problems we returned to Shepparton.  Next we plan to head    towards Adelaide and try to find some warmer weather.

March 2011

Sunday 28th March we left our home near Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and traveled  to the Blue Mountains to meet up with my daughter Michele and her family. After overnighting there we carried on the Orange to see our latest great grand daughter just one week old.  From there to Grenfell to see Margaret’s daughter Heather and husband Alex.  The family thing being covered we spent a couple of nights at Company’s Dam just out of Grenfell.  One beautiful sunny and very calm morning gave an opportunity to take some incredible photos with reflections in the water so perfect that it is almost impossible to tell which way up the photo should be.

“Reflections”  Company’s Dam, Grenfell  NSW